Bakersfield

As crucial budget approval looms, ACLU urges city of Bakersfield to allow all speakers to be heard at meeting | News – Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California 2021-06-15 20:39:00 –

With hundreds of millions of dollars scheduled to be allocated on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California is calling on Bakersfield to give everyone a chance to talk about this issue.

The Bakersfield City Council will vote on its annual budget on Wednesday, a topic that may be of widespread interest to the general public. The addition of 28 new executives proposed this year to the BPD could be even more remarkable than usual.

In this environment, ACLU requires the city council to abandon its usual policy of providing only 15 minutes of public comments per topic.

If a limited number of speakers want to make public comments, the city will give each individual 3 minutes. However, a long-standing policy allows the city to limit a large group of speakers to a total of 15 minutes if all speakers comment on one issue.

It sometimes prevents people who want to talk from doing so. And on subjects as heavy as the city’s budget, the ACLU says allowances should be made to hear from everyone.

“A significant increase in the BPD budget could justify and attract focused public surveillance,” ACLU staff lawyer Jordan Wells and legal and advocacy assistant Mylarios wrote to the city. I am writing in.

The letter further stated that ACLU expressed concern about BPD practices and, as a result, the organization explained it as a result of racism.

“Bakersfield members should be given ample time to ask questions and raise concerns about proposals to significantly increase the BPD budget in light of their performance,” the letter said.

Municipalities can afford to allow speakers during a meeting. There are no clear practices that cities must follow. For example, Kern County allows 2 minutes per speaker and there is no limit to the topic.

In response to questions from Californians about the letter, the city upheld a policy of 3 minutes per speaker and 15 minutes per topic.

“In addition to Wednesday’s meeting, Bakersfield City held four public meetings and hearings on the draft budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, all of which are public comments directly or by email or voicemail. We allow you to send it electronically at the city’s clerk’s office, “said city spokesman Joe Conroy in an email. “All electronicly submitted public comments are part of public records and will continue to be included and provided to city council members. Hundreds of written comments have been made on this topic.”

From time to time, the city extended public comment restrictions to accommodate more speakers. However, according to the letter, the limit was not extended during the May budget debate.

“As a result, the members of the community who attended to address the council could not hear their voice on the budget,” the letter says. “For issues that are as important as the budget, it’s unacceptable.”

You can reach Sammorgen at 661-395-7415. You can also follow him on Twitter @ smorgenTBC.

As crucial budget approval looms, ACLU urges city of Bakersfield to allow all speakers to be heard at meeting | News Source link As crucial budget approval looms, ACLU urges city of Bakersfield to allow all speakers to be heard at meeting | News

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